Get off the beaten track with Gondwana Surveys

Published 5:00am 9 June 2024

Get off the beaten track with Gondwana Surveys
Words by Ashleigh Howarth

If you’re looking for a different way to explore Bribie Island and the surrounding regions, why not take a walk on the wild side with Ben Timmings.

The self-proclaimed “plant nerd” and educational consultant at Gondwana Surveys runs a series of educational guided walks, taking locals and visitors to pockets of bushland brimming with native flora and fauna.

“People often come to Bribie for the beach and the sand, but there is so much more to the island than that,” Ben says.

“There are some beautiful bushland, lakes, and mangroves you can explore that are home to various types of native plant species.

“I like to take people off the beaten track to these areas so they can immerse themselves in nature and get down on their hands and knees to look at the plants they wouldn’t normally pay attention to.

“My guided tours are all about giving people a deeper understanding and appreciation for the plants that thrive here.

“As someone who has loved plants all my life, I can’t tell you how lucky we are to have these rare and unusual plants growing right here in our own backyard.”

Some of the tours Ben hosts include Weird ’n’ Wonderful at Sandstone Lakes in Ningi; Gondwanan families, the big 10, also at Sandstone Lakes; Wonders of the Wallum Walk in Bribie Island National Park; and Into the Mangled Grove at Banksia Beach, which is a new tour.

“I have always avoided the beach because it’s just saltwater and sand - no plants,” Ben says.

“I much prefer being in the swamps of Bribie Island among the mangroves, which is the focus of a new tour I started this year.

“Mangroves are really fascinating. Not only can they live in salt water but most of the mangrove species aren’t related to each other genetically.

“A lot of them have come from the same plant families we have in our gardens, and through evolutionary pressures, they have been forced to the coastline.

“Instead of going extinct because it’s too salty, they have adapted in different ways.”

With the change of season, and heavy rainfalls earlier this year, Ben says winter is the perfect time to get out and enjoy nature.

“I will be hosting more tours this year and they will be bigger and better than last year, and that’s all thanks to the rain,” Ben explains.

“Tuberous species are ‘up on time’ this year, and the ground has stayed wet enough for good, even germination of all the annual species.

“The scheduled burns last year have also loaded the soil with a healthy amount of ash nutrients, which this year’s rain has pushed it into the roots.

“The bush is already looking greener and more colourful and I’m excited to see a Wallum wildflower season return to form.”

Ben is hoping to see more locals and visitors join him on a tour.

“It’s my goal to become one of those interesting tourist companies that people seek out," he says. 

“I think Gondwana Surveys offers something different that will appeal to all nature lovers.”

All of Ben’s guided tours can be found on the Gondwana Surveys Facebook page as well as the Bribie Island Environmental Protection Association Inc (BIEPA) website.

To see more photos, click through the gallery below. 

What you will find

These pictures were taken near Sandstone Lakes in Ningi.

Some of the native flora found in this area include:

  • Climbing sundews (Drosera lunata) – carnivorous
  • Bladderworts (Utricularia) – carnivorous
  • Midyum Berries (Austromyrtis dulcis) – edible
  • Various Matt-rush species (Lomandra) – edible
  • Sphagnum moss

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